Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Yet Another Example of the World-Class Music Available in Israel

July 19, 2012 § 4 Comments

Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, (translated from an nrg.co.il interview published in Hebrew by Creative Community for Peace) http://www.nrg.co.il/online/47/ART2/384/265.html

Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre seems to have a very formed opinion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Between the Palestinian-led organizations, the BDS National Committee and The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and my own little campaign on Facebook which continuously appealed to them among many others, it’s unfortunate that it never occurred to the band to try and contact the people who asked them not to play in Israel. I hate to write a post-performance letter [1,2,3,4,5], and some may ask what’s the point, but I truly believe that while it may be too late to get you to cancel, it’s it’s never too late to get you to understand. So one more time with feeling: A post-performance analysis and response to the statements of Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre [Hebrew].

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Amnesty shills for the US war machine

June 20, 2012 § 4 Comments

After the infamous babies-in-incubators fiasco, in which Amnesty International helped sell an unpopular war with false claims about specific Iraqi atrocities, one would expect that it would show greater concern for its reputation which in recent year had been rehabilitated somewhat. But as Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley show,  Amnesty International’s hiring of a highly dubious Washington insider to head its US operation and its blatantly propagandistic public diplomacy campaigns on Afghanistan suggest cooperation with the CIA to perpetuate a deeply unpopular war. 

The new Executive Director of Amnesty International USA – Suzanne Nossel – is a recent U.S. government insider. So it’s a safe bet that AI’s decision to seize upon a topic that dovetailed with American foreign policy interests, “women’s rights in Afghanistan,” at the NATO Conference last month in Chicago came directly from her.

Nossel was hired by AI in January 2012. In her early career, Nossel worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke under the Clinton Administration at the United Nations. Most recently, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press and congressional relations.

Amnesty International’s “NATO: Keep the Progress Going” poster at a Chicago bus stop.

She also played a leading role in U.S. engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Council (where her views about the original Goldstone Report on behalf of Palestinian women did not quite rise to the same level of concerns for the women in countries that U.S.-NATO has attacked militarily).[...]

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The Role of Tom Rob Smith in Brand Israel

May 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

Tom Rob Smith is grappling with some serious philosophical questions these days. He asks himself what the purpose of fiction is? What the role of the writer in society is?

What prompted the popular writer to go back to his Cambridge roots and rehash this very Humanities 101 debate? Why the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement of course!

Tom Rob Smith at the Jerusalem Writers Festival not discussing the ways in which it whitewashes apartheid, and is sponsored by an organization which is responsible for ongoing ethnic cleansing, only minutes away from the premises. (source: The Jerusalem Writers Festival Facebook page)

Tom Rob Smith at the Jerusalem Writers Festival not discussing the ways in which it whitewashes apartheid, and is sponsored by an organization which is responsible for ongoing ethnic cleansing, only minutes away from the premises. (source: The Jerusalem Writers Festival Facebook page)

 

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Welcome to Israel 2012

April 13, 2012 § 7 Comments

Welcome to Palestine 2012 is already a huge success. Israel has already set up a welcoming committee, the only way a military regime meeting opposition knows how: As in last year’s Fly-in, hundreds of border patrol personnel and police officers will await the delegation. Detention facilities are already ready for 1500 children, women and men, expected to arrive in Ben Gurion Airport. But why tell when I can show? Here’s your typical, run of the mill article on Channel 1:

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White Man’s Burden: Because Normalization is Hard to Do

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

On +972 magazine, IPCRI’s Dan Goldenblatt has invited “anyone who has criticism of how we at IPCRI try to advance this goal to tell us so, engage and challenge us, and help us and others improve.” As a long-time critic of the “liberal left” “peace industry” (I thank Goldenblatt himself for the latter term), I’m taking him up on his invitation, picking up from where PACBI left off. To start off, I’ll wonder whether IPCRI “brought [themselves] together” with PACBI to “meet, discuss, argue, build, take apart, share and cooperate”? Or did Goldenblatt just write up his public response to PACBI’s engaging and challenging critique of the organization?

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UN School of Etiquette: How to Conduct an “Appropriate” Blockade

September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

Just as I arrived in Bil’in for the Friday weekly demonstration, word came that the UN Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident (a.k.a. “The Palmer Committee Report”) has named the blockade of the Gaza Strip “legal and appropriate”. Which is rather surprising, seeing as the blockade was defined by the UN as “illegal” as well as  “illegal and inhumane”, time and time again. (And again.)

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Want to make your war a “Just War”? A quick how-to, with help from WikiLeaks.

April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

War is hell, war is pain and sorrow–unless of course it’s a Just War which is noble, heroic, every true Christian’s blessed jihad, and if you can swing it, fully authorized by the UN Security Council.  Even if Just Wars both ancient (say, the Albigensian crusade) and modern (the starvation of thousands of Iraqis by UN Security Council-authorized sanctions) have been unspeakably nasty, Just Wars are still at least Just, so what’s not to like?

cluster-bombs.jpg

These cluster bombs are just.

There are two ways to make your war a Just War, with all the fringe benefits.  Please read carefully.

First, convince the world that the war is just by invoking the UN Charter and getting Security Council authorization.   The law involved is less straightforward than the Scholastic neo-Aristotelianism that used to justify Just Wars, so you’ll be wanting to hire some lawyers.  Less intelligent presidents will put angry anti-diplomats like John Bolton on the task, but cannier ones will hire smoother jurists like Harold Koh and Samantha Power to make the case in the dulcet tones of humanitarian NGOese.  This is the preferred way of making a war Just nowadays, most likely a matter of supply and demand, as there’s no shortage of secular casuists graduating from the top law schools, and the US Department of Defense has 15,000 lawyers on hand.

The second way to make your war a Just War is to get the Pope to declare it so, or at least not denounce it as an unjust war.  This may sound self-consciously retro, but new WikiLeaks disclosures reveal that it has never truly gone out of style.  The story « Read the rest of this entry »

Three Cups of Hooey

April 18, 2011 § 4 Comments

UPDATE:Three Cups of Deceit‘, Jon Krakauer’s extensive expose of Mortenson is now available for download (but only for a brief time, so hurry). Also check out Nosheen Ali’s article from the Third World Quarterly on the Mortenson saga and the discourse of humanitarianism. (via Mike Barker)

Fellow PULSEr Chase Madar calls this Missionary Imperialism. Once a critic of Donald Rumsfeld, he notes, Greg Mortenson had taken to touring the US with Pentagon officials stumping for the Afghan effort, portraying it as a Peace Corps project that just happens to have 130k armed soldiers attached.

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Right to intervene?

March 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

As Muammar Gaddafi strikes to crush rebel forces in Libya, Empire looks at the case for and against intervention.

Ostrich America?

December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

by Chase Madar

Famous photograph of the US isolating itself in Iwo Jima. (Photo: Joe Rosenthal, 1945)

Of all the received ideas that clog America’s foreign-policy discourse, none is more at variance with reality than the threat of isolationism. We have never been more engaged with every corner of the world, yet we have never been lectured more often about the consequences of “retreating within our borders.” The more countries we attack—Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen—the more dire warnings we get about national introversion. The specter of isolationism has never looked healthier.

A case in point was George W. Bush’s 2006 State of the Union address, a venue he used to tell a spine-chilling tale. With his foreign policy exploding all around him, Bush warned against an even more disastrous alternative: there were those who would “tie our hands” and have us “retreat within our borders.” From the tenor of his talk, he seemed to think that Americans were about to burn down both the Pentagon and Department of State, beat defense intellectuals into postal workers, and force every house in the land to set up a little steel foundry in the back yard—just like in the Great Leap Forward—while learning to live on grubs and wild mountain honey.

Of course, this is absurd: as many pointed out in response to this scaremongering, there are no isolationists in America—not in either political party, not in the media, and not in the academy. (The i-word is often used as a synonym for unilateralism. Here I am assigning only its most common meaning: a tendency to ignore security threats beyond territorial borders and disengage diplomatically, politically, and economically from the rest of the world.) Nevertheless, the menace of a return to geopolitical autarky is carted out whenever our sclerotically narrow foreign-policy consensus gets an unwelcome jolt. This habit of mind did not end with the exit of George W. Bush.

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